Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Common Raven

Corvus corax

Of the birds classified as perching birds or "songbirds," the Common Raven is the largest, the size of a hawk. Often its deep croaking call will alert the observer to a pair of ravens soaring high overhead. An intelligent and remarkably adaptable bird, living as a scavenger and predator, it can survive at all seasons in surroundings as different as hot desert and high Arctic tundra. Once driven from much of its eastern range, the raven is now making a comeback.
Conservation status Ravens disappeared from much of the east and midwest before 1900. In recent decades they have been expanding their range again, especially in the northeast, spreading south into formerly occupied areas.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Boreal and mountain forests, coastal cliffs, tundra, desert. Can live in a very wide array of habitats, from tundra above the Arctic Circle to hot desert areas of the southwest. Often in heavily forested country; may also live on prairies if good nest sites (on cliffs) exist nearby.
Of the birds classified as perching birds or "songbirds," the Common Raven is the largest, the size of a hawk. Often its deep croaking call will alert the observer to a pair of ravens soaring high overhead. An intelligent and remarkably adaptable bird, living as a scavenger and predator, it can survive at all seasons in surroundings as different as hot desert and high Arctic tundra. Once driven from much of its eastern range, the raven is now making a comeback.
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Feeding Behavior

Typically forages in pairs, the two birds sometimes cooperating to flush out prey. Searches for nests, to eat the eggs or young birds. An opportunist, taking advantage of temporary food sources. Does most feeding on the ground. Often feeds as a scavenger, searching for carrion or visiting garbage dumps. In northern Alaska (Pt. Barrow) in winter, seen feeding at dump under artificial lights.


Eggs

4-6, sometimes 3-7. Greenish, blotched with olive or brown. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, about 18-21 days. Male feeds female during incubation. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings, and female broods them while they are small. Young leave nest about 5-6 weeks after hatching.


Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings, and female broods them while they are small. Young leave nest about 5-6 weeks after hatching.

Diet

Omnivorous. May feed on practically anything, but majority of diet apparently is animal matter. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, and others; also rodents, lizards, frogs, and eggs and young of other birds. Regularly eats carrion and garbage.


Nesting

In courtship display, male soars, swoops, and tumbles in mid-air. Pair may soar high together; when perched, they touch bills, preen each other's feathers. Nest site is usually on ledge of rock cliff, or high in tall tree (especially conifer). May use same site year after year, adding material on top of old nest. Both sexes help build. Nest is a bulky basket of large sticks and twigs, with deep depression in center lined with grass, bark strips, moss, animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Mostly permanent resident, but some wander in fall and winter, appearing south of breeding range.

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Migration

Mostly permanent resident, but some wander in fall and winter, appearing south of breeding range.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Deep, varied, guttural croaking; a hollow wonk-wonk.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Common Raven

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate threats facing the Common Raven

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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